The Valens Team

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross
Carolina Ponzeto
Rachel Miller
Matt Shear
Emelie Chace-Donahue
Meghan Conroy
Vivian Hagerty
Al-Husein Madhany
Jacob Zenn



Described by The International Herald Tribune as “a rising star in the counterterrorism community,” Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is a prominent scholar, practitioner, and entrepreneur. His career has focused on understanding how terrorist groups and other violent non-state actors (VNSAs) are changing the world, and helping governments and private clients fashion creative solutions to save lives and safeguard their interests. Daveed is also a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and an associate fellow at the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague. Previous positions he has held include senior advisor to the director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Community Partnerships, fellow with Google’s think tank Jigsaw, and adjunct assistant professor in Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program.

As a practitioner, some of Daveed’s recent projects have included: delivering regular briefings and assessments to U.S. government agencies on such topics as ISIS’s European attack network, the implications of the failed coup in Turkey on counterterrorism efforts, and the strategic implications of the Libyan civil war; organizing and facilitating a conference in Nigeria as an EU-appointed Strategic Communication Expert, helping civil society activists understand militant groups’ use of social media and forge a strategic action plan for countering it; mapping the online counter-ISIS narrative space for Jigsaw/Google’s Redirect Method, which was designed to divert users who may be susceptible to the jihadist group’s propaganda, and provide them with a different perspective on ISIS; serving as a subject-matter consultant on militant groups during live hostage negotiations; designing and delivering lectures and training for U.S. government personnel through such programs as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Individual Terrorism Awareness Course and the Naval Postgraduate School’s Leader Development and Education for Sustained Peace program; and designing and leading strategic simulations exploring the competition between VNSAs and state actors for major academic institutions, such as Johns Hopkins University.

Daveed has testified on his areas of core competency before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives over a dozen times, as well as before the Canadian House of Commons. He has also served as an expert witness on terrorism and sub-state violence in numerous federal legal cases, including criminal, civil, and asylum cases. He is frequently a featured speaker at events throughout the globe, including delivering keynote speeches at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Commander’s Conference, the University of Southern California’s National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), and the Global Futures Forum. Other venues where he has spoken include the Royal United Services Institute (London), the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies (Kazakhstan), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Minerva Research Initiative, and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Known for his rigorous scholarship, Daveed is the author or volume editor of twenty-three books and monographs. He has published widely in the popular and academic press, including in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, and Terrorism & Political Violence. He is also a member of the Editorial Board of the leading peer-reviewed journal, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism. Daveed holds a PhD in world politics from the Catholic University of America and a JD from the New York University School of Law, and can conduct research in five languages.

His e-mail address is, and he is active on Twitter as @DaveedGR.

Carolina Ponzeto



Carolina “Nina” Ponzeto is the Vice President of Operations at Valens Global. At Valens, Nina supports internal and external growth by overseeing day-to-day operations, talent acquisition, and client relationship management. Before joining Valens, Nina developed response, recovery, and business continuity exercises for private and public sector clients as an emergency management consultant at the Cadmus Group. Prior to that, she was a Brent Scowcroft fellow at the Aspen Strategy Group, focusing on client-management and logistics for their yearly Security Conference.

Nina has a Masters degree from Georgetown University in Security Studies, where she completed a thesis which examined the correlation between Dengue Fever outbreaks and political campaign outcomes in Brazil. She also graduated cum laude from the George Washington University with degrees in International Affairs, Psychology and a minor in Peace Studies. She is fluent in Portuguese and skilled in Spanish.

Vivian Hagerty



Rachel Miller is an analyst at Valens Global. At Valens, Rachel specializes in jihadist organizations within MENA, particularly studying the interactions between jihadist organizations. She has also explored the crime-terror nexus, with an emphasis on returning foreign fighters and Hezbollah’s global presence. In addition, Rachel has language skills in Arabic and Hebrew.

Rachel graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Haverford College with High Honors in Political Science and a concentration in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. She was awarded the Harold P. Kurzman Prize in Political Science, awarded to the senior who has performed the best and most creatively in political science coursework. Her undergraduate thesis explored fragmentation within trans-border nationalist movements, utilizing the Kurdish movement as a case study. Rachel worked as a research assistant at Haverford for three years, focusing on terrorism and non-state actors in the Middle East, as well as the recruitment of foreign fighters. Prior to joining Valens, she was a research assistant in the Counterterrorism and Intelligence Program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Matt Shear



Matt Shear is an analyst at Valens Global. At Valens, Matt analyzes a broad array of emerging threats around the globe, with a focus in MENA, Southeast Asia, and West Africa. He is also interested in the challenges posed by domestic extremism across the ideological spectrum. Matt has language skills in both Modern Standard and Levantine Arabic.

Matt graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with majors in Peace, War, & Defense and Psychology and a minor in Arabic. He has conducted research for Dr. Charles Kurzman’s annual report on “Muslim-American Involvement with Violent Extremism” and for the START Center’s Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States (PIRUS) project. Matt has also interned with the U.S. Marshals Service New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force and the Anti-Defamation League.

Emelie Chace-Donahue



Emelie Chace-Donahue is an analyst at Valens Global. At Valens, Emelie analyzes global terrorist incidents and emerging threats with a focus on the MENA region and West Africa, and has worked on a range of topics including returning foreign fighters, terrorist facilitators, and terrorist uses of unmanned aerial systems.

Emelie graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Smith College with majors in Government and Middle East Studies. She also spent semesters at the University of Jordan in Amman and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. At Smith, she coauthored a paper entitled “Sovereignty Versus Sectarianism: Contested Norms and the Logic of Regional Conflict in the Greater Levant” that was published in December 2018 by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in an edited volume of papers on regional order in the Levant. Before Valens, Emelie worked for several summers as an intern at Meridian 361 International Law Group where she provided research assistance for lawsuits against state sponsors of terrorism and a major international human rights lawsuit. She also interned at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center where she published several articles for their blog. Emelie has intermediate proficiency in French and Arabic. 



Meghan Conroy is a Consultant focused on organizational development, business development and strategy, and day-to-day operations. In 2015, Meghan was an Intern with the Analysis Division at Valens, and then went on to serve as a Valens Strategist from 2016-2017. She has previously interned with the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and the U.S. House of Representatives, and currently works in market and competitive intelligence for a government contracting firm.

Meghan earned her Master’s degree in International Security and Terrorism with Distinction from the University of Nottingham. Her thesis was titled, “Examining the Structural Evolution of ISIS Through Social Network Analysis and Organizational Learning,” and won the sole Centre for Conflict, Security, and Terrorism’s (CST) annual dissertation award in 2015. Meghan also graduated magna cum laude from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology, where she specialized in biological/forensic anthropology and worked with the local coroner’s office to assist in the identification of skeletal remains.

Vivian Hagerty



Vivian Hagerty is a consultant at Valens Global. In collaboration with Valens’ research team, Vivian works to provide innovative analysis and research on today’s most pressing security challenges. She specializes in violent non-state actors (VNSAs) in South Asia, as well as the relationships VNSAs form with one another globally. Being particularly interested in when and how these relationships fall apart, she has published on “terrorist divorce” and the ISIL/al-Qaeda split. In addition, Vivian has previous experience in government and NGOs, as well as language skills in French, German, and Turkish.

Vivian graduated magna cum laude from American University and is completing her Master’s degree in Security Studies at Georgetown University. As an undergrad, she majored in Homeland and National Security Studies with a concentration in terrorism and intelligence. She currently focuses on U.S. National Security Policy in Georgetown’s Security Studies Program.

Al-Husein Madhany



Al-Husein Madhany, who serves as an Advisor at Valens Global, is a consummate connector and facilitator for diplomatic action.

Al-Husein currently reports to the Facebook CIO and serves as his executive business partner. Previously, he was the Executive Vice President of the One Nation Foundation based in Gig Harbor, Washington. Prior to moving out West, Al-Husein taught Arabic at Georgetown University and has published with the Brookings Institution on Islam, Muslim societies, and Social Media.

Al-Husein holds a BA from Wake Forest University and advanced degrees from Harvard, Georgetown, and the University of Chicago. He is a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, was recently an Aspen Ideas Scholar, and has been a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Al-Husein serves as a Senior Advisor (, the premier online destination to explore and experience the world’s beliefs. He also is Senior Consultant at the Duncan Group (, and offers expertise in four practice areas: recruitment, organizational consulting, coaching, and executive-level training for professional support staff.

Al-Husein lives in Silicon Valley with his wife and two children, where he enjoys running and teaching at the University of California, Silicon Valley extension campus. You can follow Al-Husein at

Jacob Zenn



Jacob Zenn is a Senior Consultant at Valens Global. He was component leader under European Union Technical Assistance to Nigeria’s Evolving Security Challenges (EUTANS) from 2014 to May 2016, and supported a CT Sahel project in Niger as part of the Instrument for Stability (IfS) of the EU. In 2015-2016 he provided analyses of Boko Haram’s organizational structure to the Swiss Embassy in Abuja, which supported negotiations that led to the release of 21 Chibok schoolgirls in October 2016. He is now on a consultant team as part of the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) drafting a Nigeria Policy Framework and National Action Plan on countering violent extremism (CVE) in Nigeria.

Zenn is a fellow on African and Eurasian Affairs at The Jamestown Foundation in Washington DC and a non-resident fellow at two think-tanks in Astana, Kazakhstan (Center for Security Programs) and Shanghai, China (Center of Shanghai Cooperation Organization Studies). Zenn is the author of more than 200 reports and articles on Nigeria, Central Asia and Southeast Asia and has spoken and published widely in the academic and popular press.

Zenn consults for clients who need to understand micro-level details about leadership, ideology, strategic communication, and operational trends of violent non-state actors (VNSAs)—and particularly those on the “geopolitical periphery” of the Middle East—as well as macro-level trends about how VNSAs in the 21st century are evolving in geographical, socio-cultural and historical context. He has provided briefings and lectures for a range of international actors, including United States Army, United Nations Counter-terrorism Executive Directorate, Canadian Special Forces, and UK Ministry of Defense, and he co-teaches a graduate-level course on VNSAs as an adjunct assistant professor in Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program. He has provided expert testimony to the U.S. Congress two times on Boko Haram and one time on Central Asian militancy.

Zenn holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, where he was a Global Law Scholar, and a Graduate Certificate in Chinese and American Affairs from Johns Hopkins SAIS-Nanjing University School of Advanced International Studies, where courses were taught in Mandarin. Zenn conducts research in more than 10 languages.